Paper made by a subsidiary of Indonesian firm Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has been cleared of breaching EU ecolabel criteria. An official report by the European Commission has ruled that key products manufactured by Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) in Indonesia meet all of the criteria for the Ecolabel – a standard designed to reassure consumers that they are buying goods which are ‘kindest’ to the environment. But forestry NGO Fern, which brought the original complaint, says its concerns have not been addressed. Last year, Fern accused APP subsidiary Pindo Deli of using suppliers that damaged the environment and potentially acted illegally.


Both APP companies entitled with the Ecolabel certification, Indah Kiat and Lonthar Papirus, are still massively clear cutting rain forests (often on deep peat) to convert them into pulp plantations. They have long term supply contracts with respectively PT WKS for establishing and PT Arara Abadi, part of Sinarmas Forestry (of the same industrial group controlling APP), both responsible of massive deforestation and human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, the EU Commission requested to to carry out an investigation on these allegations to the same   French standards agency which awarded the ecolabel to two APP companies, AFNOR. Basically, AFNOR was asked to investigate on its own work. AFNOR’s concluded that there was a full compliance with the criteria of the EU ecolabel for copying and graphic paper valid at that time, especially on criterion 3 – sustainable forest management,” according to the European Commission.

However, Fern campaigner Veerle Dossche said that there was nothing in the publicly available part of the French agency’s report to show whether it had checked on the pulp being used in person or relied on paperwork provided by Pindo Deli. She also thinks stakeholders should have been invited to participate in the audit. The investigation does not address the ecolabel’s lack of transparency or the potential for inconsistencies between certification bodies, she said. Fern also wants stronger criteria and firms with dubious green records to be barred from the system altogether.